Jamaat-ud-Dawa: Internationally renowned charity or militant group?

Aug 2nd, 2012 | By | Category: The News

The News (Jang Group)The News reports today that 160 Pakistanis appear on Interpol’s ‘Wanted List’. While the report is mostly just a list of names taken from the Interpol ‘Wanted List’, the author Sabir Shah gives special attention to the presence of Hafiz Saeed, terming his group Jamaat-ud-Dawa as the “globally renowned Islamic charity”. JuD is internationally known, but not as a ‘renowned charity’.

The history of Jamaat-ud-Dawa is worth mentioning as it grew from another banned militant organisation, Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) currently known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or ‘Jud’, is one of the most organized militant organizations in South Asia. Although ‘Let’ was banned earlier not only in Pakistan but also in the US, European Union, Russia, Australia and India, it continues to operate under the guise of ‘Jud’ from Muridke near Lahore in Pakistan with strong backing from the ISI.

‘Jud’ was created by Hafiz Saeed and Zafar Iqbal in 1985 to preach their version of Wahabi Islam. Presently, the organization’s stated objective is to destroy India, Israel and the United States for they are the enemies of Islam. The followers of ‘Jud’ also seek to spread the rule of Islam all over the world through violent means and liberate Indian administered Kashmir. Another stated aim of this group is to exact revenge from the enemies of Islam while defending Muslim states and forcing the infidels in the Muslim world to pay jazia. The group has marked hundreds of potential targets around the world which have to be struck.

Hafiz Saeed founded Lashkar-e-Taiba with Zakiur Rehman who also appears on the Interpol ‘Wanted List’ according to the report in The News.

Along with Hafiz Saeed, the name of the 51-year-old Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is also there on this Interpol’s “Wanted List.”Lakhvi is accused of crimes that are similar to the ones ‘allegedly’ committed by Hafiz Saeed. On December 3, 2008, India had named him as one of the four possible major planners behind the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

He is wanted in India by the Additional Sessions Judge of the Mumbai sessions Court.The Okara-based Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is believed by Western and Indian media to be a founding member of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba and currently serves as Supreme Commander of operations in Kashmir.

In 2008, Jamaat-ud-Dawa was added to a list of international terrorist groups by the United Nations. Following the announcement, the government arrested Hafiz Saeed and banned his organisation.

Hafiz Muhammad Saeed was placed under house arrest for three months yesterday, as Islamabad issued warrants for the detention of eight other leaders of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, sealing some of its offices across the country and freezing Pakistani banks associated with the outfit. The move risks a violent backlash by the group but it eases the massive international pressure on Islamabad to act against militants based on its soil.

“The government has decided to proscribe Jamaat-ud-Dawa,” said information minister Sherry Rehman. The Pakistani authorities were reacting to a UN security council decision passed late on Wednesday to put Jamaat-ud-Dawa on a terrorist list, along with Saeed and three other members. The group claims it was an Islamic charity unrelated to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant organisation that is blamed for the Mumbai carnage, but the UN dismissed this as a ruse.

Despite the repeated claims of JuD Amir Hafiz Saeed that his Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a charity when faced with charges of terrorism, the same group publicly projects militancy and jihad. Posting on Twitter earlier this year, JuD called on Allah to “annihilate” the US.

Video taken at a Jamaat-ud-Dawa rally shows chants of “The answer for American invasion is jihad!” “What is relationship with Lashkar-e-Taiba? Lailahailallah!” “What is relationship with Jamaat-ud-Dawa? Lailahailallah!” “Only one cure for America – jihad! jihad!”

An article in The Independent (UK) describes Abdul Rahman, a teacher at a Jamaat-ud-Dawa school in Muridke as a militant of Lashkar-e-Taiba, and says the claim that JuD is a charity is discredited.

After he returned to Pakistan, Rahman would tell the story of his adventures to young students at an Islamic school in Muridke, 15 miles north of Lahore, run by the Jamaat-ud-Dawa charity. That he was able to move so easily between being a mountain guerrilla of Lashkar-e-Toiba and a teacher of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, discredits the latter’s repeated claim that it is a charitable organisation involved only in running schools, clinics and providing relief to the victims of earthquakes such as a recent one in Baluchistan. Instead, there is convincing evidence that it is a front group and a servicing organisation for the fighters of the Lashkar-e-Toiba militants.

When the US announced a $10 million bounty for information that could be used to arrest and convict Hafiz Saeed, the JuD chief again preached violence while raising funds for jihad.

In a fiery Friday sermon, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed called on the people to wage jihad against America in order to save Pakistan and Islam. “Come to us. We will teach you the meaning of jihad… The time to fight has come.”

The sermon was held at the JuD head office Jamia Markaz al-Qadsia in Lahore, where Saeed had his own security. Some of the security personnel were also seen carrying weapons with silencers. A box was placed at the exit and men asked for people exiting the mosque to give funds for jihad.

It is unclear why Sabir Shah chose to single out Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Dawa for special treatment in his report while merely listing the names of others. It could be due to his fame, but then why would he need an explanation? What is more problematic is the characterisation of Jamaat-ud-Dawa as ‘internationally renowned charity’.Whether Jamaat-ud-Dawa is involved in relief work is without question. But that does not mean that this is the only work that Jamaat-ud-Dawa is involved with. Army engages in a lot of relief work, but no one would term the Army as a “charity”. The fact is that Jamaat-ud-Dawa was not only placed on UN terror blacklist, but was banned by the Goverment in 2008. By terming JuD as “a charity”, The News can confuse readers about the true nature of Jamaat-ud-Dawa. This may be the way Hafiz Saeed would like his group to be referred to, but journalists owe their readers more than simply parroting the claims of the subjects they are reporting.

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